Thursday, December 27, 2012

DEQ accepting further public comment on Orvana application for wetlands, inland lakes and streams permit

Editor's Note: This is a letter from Steve Casey, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Upper Peninsula District Supervisor, Water Resources Division, addressed to concerned citizens who sent comments concerning the Orvana Copperwood application for a wetlands, inland lakes and streams permit for their proposed copper mine near Wakefield, Mich. While the deadline for these comments was Dec. 18, 2012, DEQ officials are still accepting further comments. Casey explains why in this letter, sent via email on Friday, Dec. 21.

LETTER:

First and foremost, we did not effectively achieve our goal of effectively reaching beyond the legally required minimum public participation for this application.  Hopefully we’ll "hit the mark" this time by clarifying how to access the complete application, the December mitigation supplement and overviewing a few other issues.

Application Access:

1.We will consider all comments that we receive prior to making a decision on this application. We do not expect to make a decision until January 21, at the soonest. We’ll let you know immediately if our review time is shortened.
2.The entire Part 301/303 application has been available on the DEQ web site since November 30. The December 3 press release was meant to, in part, make it easier for the public to find and review the entire application without having to go through the FOIA process. This is not required by statute, but was done as an outreach. The second page of the November 28 public notice and the second page of the December 3 press release provided a link to the DEQ webpage, from which the entire application could have been found. In hindsight, it was not easy to do so. The most direct way to view the entire application is to go to this link:

http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3307_29692_24403-290574--,00.html

This link includes the public notice (which largely consists of documents from the application that were scanned) as well as the entire application. The actual application (not the "poorer quality scanned documents" as John Coleman described them in his email) is found below the "Table of Contents" file about a quarter of the way down this link.  Several of you expressed interest in seeing the more detailed mitigation plan that was submitted earlier this week. We added it to the website yesterday. These files are on the same link and are labeled:

Supplemental Information added 12-20-2012
If you have a problem finding any of this information, please contact me at (906) 346-8535 or caseys@michigan.gov or Jim Caron at (906) 875-2071 x.103 or caronj@michigan.gov.

Hopefully, the information in this email better achieves our goal of providing an effective opportunity for meaningful public comment on this application.

Other Clarifications

Several other clarifications might assist you in providing meaningful comments on this application. Again, these clarifications are based on a quick review of the comments received to date and are meant to help you review the application. Please be assured that we will fully consider all comments that we have received and will receive and that our review is far from complete.

1.The feasibility study for utilizing tailings for mine backfill is found in Appendix E under Tab 5: "Alternative Analysis" on the link described above.
2.The department’s September 5 letter to Orvana on their previous application and their response are attached.* We are reviewing the November 28 application to determine whether it adequately addresses the issues DEQ raised in the September 5 letter. 
3.The department is in the process of imposing additional conditions in the Orvana Part 632 permit to ensure that several concerns address in tribal/public comments are addressed. Please contact me if you would like additional information on that process.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Steve Casey
Upper Peninsula District Supervisor
Water Resources Division
(906) 346-8535


Note: To send electronic comments on this project go to CIWPIS-on-line, type in the file number 12-27-0050-P on the left panel and select "Search."

*Editor's Note: Email Steve Casey at caseys@michigan.gov to request copies of these letters.

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